The Ominous Implications for the West of Jews' Exodus from France

According to recent reports, the number of French Jews committing to a flight to Israel is steadily increasing, and in 2014, that number could touch a record. 

French spokesman for the Jewish Agency for Israel, Ariel Kandel, says that “the phenomenon is speeding up.”    Of the 500K Jewish population in France (among Europe’s highest concentrations), 5,000 French Jews may leave for Israel this year “if the current rhythm continues,” which would be 1,720 more than 2013, and 3,093 more than in 2012.

That is an unmistakable trend.  But given the clues in recent years about the increasingly anti-Semitic environment that Jews in France endure, it should be unsurprising to any mildly observant citizen of the world.  What is remarkable, however, is how many Westerners don’t seem to think it’s indicative of any real problem.  Consider how many genuinely concerned Americans gawk at animals “fleeing” Yosemite, wondering if they have some sixth sense warning them of the impending doom of a super-volcano or some such.  But when flesh-and-blood human beings commit to “fleeing” a logistically confirmable crisis which obviously threatens their very existence in France, those same Americans are broadly uninterested in the implications.

I would have once found it unthinkable to imagine that, in the civilized world and in any year after 1945, Jews fleeing European nations in search of asylum from anti-Semitism would be understood as anything other than an ominous warning of the machinations such hatred can portend.  And yet, here we are, and the signs are routinely unheralded. 

“An unfair comparison!” the left will scream.  “Fear-mongering! There is no such hateful government in France which could rival that of the Nazis, so the Jews are in no such danger!”

Okay.  Fair enough an assertion to rebut it. 

First, let’s begin with the obvious deficiency in that line of thought.  If no such danger could possibly exist for Jews in France, then why are thousands upon thousands of them leaving their homes, uprooting their families, and seeking friendlier soil?  The trek from Marseilles to Tel Aviv for a new life requires a deep commitment which wouldn’t be made lightly.

Second, let’s address the more deceptively pervasive deficiency in that logic.  It’s about culture, not about government.  Government often exists as a reflection of culture, not as free-standing substitute for it.  After all, it is culture (i.e., the people) which provides or denies a government’s mandate, should said culture have the desire to do either.  Case in point: when the West promoted a democratic election in Gaza in 2006, Hamas terrorists won the popular mandate, a direct reflection of a culture which values terrorism as a viable solution to the “Jewish problem” in Israel.

As such, Adolf Hitler would have been nothing without a culture which allowed his ideas and hatred to permeate the national consciousness and become law.  Hitler was personification, albeit a uniquely motivated and malignant personification, of the culture in Germany -- but it was that culture from which the Jews fled in the 1930s.  Jews (in the minority then in Germany as they are in France today) recognized that the rights which had previously applied to them were no longer protected by the German people or their government, long before the world realized their plight.

(Now is as good a time as any to note that Jews fled Nazi Germany even as TIME magazine upheld Adolf Hitler as “Man of the Year” in 1938.  In short, threatened and fleeing Jews’ ears were closer to the rail than the world which didn’t want to recognize the extent of the hate which existed in their country.)

French Jews have been living in just such a reality, and have been fearful existing within their culture for some time despite the apparent lack of an Adolf Hitler figure in France.  Take this report from the New York Times in 2003, truthfully (and surprisingly) titled “Attacks by Arabs on Jews Revive Old Fears.” 

The article opens thusly, “The boys hide their skullcaps under baseball caps.  The girls tuck their Star of David necklaces under their sweaters.  Their school is in this middle class suburb that has been scorched by fire and fear, and those are the off-campus rules.”

The author understood well that cultural Muslim aggression, not the French government, drove this fear among the Jewish community of which he spoke.  But in classic Times fashion, he declares that it is not the fault of any historical difference between Jews and Muslims, but a result of Muslim anger over American intervention in Iraq and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  As if that, in any way, absolved them of the crimes of arson and violence.

“Mindful of demographic realities and the strains of anti-Semitism in their country’s past, French officials are struggling to denounce acts of anti-Semitism without fueling racism toward France’s ethnic Arab-Muslim population,” the Times declares.

Note the verbiage, because it is an unmistakable indictment of the supposedly inculpable French government.  “French officials are struggling to denounce acts of anti-Semitism.” [Emphasis added]  In a sane world of civilized individuals living on this Earth after 1945, who could possibly “struggle” to denounce open acts of anti-Semitic hate and violence such that it would drive youths to hide their yarmulkes and Stars of David?

French officials, that’s who.  And less surprisingly, the New York Times

Interestingly enough, this report claims the Jewish population of France in 2003 is 600K, versus the claim of 500K today. That would be roughly a 17% decrease in the Jewish population in a decade.  And who could blame them for the exodus?  The “demographic realities” of many millions of Arab-Muslims in France and the fear of “fueling racism toward” them has clearly trumped the human rights of the Jewish victims of these attacks, for which French officials “struggled” to give lip-service condemnations. 

Thus, Jews in France are relegated to hide their faith and live in shadows to the extent possible, despite the lack of a Nazi-esque government demanding that they do so, in fear that hordes of hateful Muslims in their communities would target them for their beliefs.

So I would ask this question.  Why does it require that a modern Adolf Hitler or a Nazi-equivalent government be visible in the global spotlight to recognize the clearly virulent influence that mass Arab-Muslim immigration and the resultant anti-Semitism has visited upon France, its culture, and upon the Jews who live there? 

Even with the absence of a Hitler figure in France or a regime which openly espouses such hatred, Jews indeed have reason to drudge up the “old fears.”

Just one example (among too many to be listed here) of why the “old fears” might be realized was a murder spree which targeted Jewish schoolchildren that occurred in Toulouse in March 2012, killing four.  In June 2012, ten Arab-Muslims with “rods and hammers” attacked three Jews wearing skullcaps in Lyon, crying “dirty Jews” as they hospitalized two victims.  Apparently, these young Jews were in breach of the non-government-sanctioned but rigidly enforced “rules” (the Times’ word, not mine) of hiding their skullcaps offsite of their Jewish schools, should they be lucky enough to escape them without being the target of anti-Semitic shooters.

More recently, on March 4 of this year, Arab-Muslims beat a French Jew on a Paris metro train, emphatically reminding him during the beating that the Jew “has no country.”  On March 12, an Arab-Muslim mother and daughter beat a young Jewish girl at a laundromat while the daughter reportedly shouted “Dirty Jew, go home to your country, Israel.”

Imagine being told, in your own country as you take a merciless beating, that “you have no country.”  Imagine being a young girl, and told to “go back to your home country, Israel,” as a mother held you down and let her daughter beat you.  Imagine living as a Jew in a nation where Jews walking through an Arab neighborhood would say “You have to carry an umbrella to protect yourself from the stones that fly,” as the Times nonchalantly reported as an indictment against America and Israel in 2003.  And imagine having to walk your children through that sort of hate and potential violence, with no convincing sign that neither the people nor the existing government seeks to protect your family’s human right to live free from that sort of aggression.

At what point do you simply leave, and go to another place where you might be wanted or accepted as Jews did in the 1930s?  Or to Israel today, which increasingly seems the only place you feel you might be wanted and protected?

Jews in France are making that choice.  Will the world do nothing and allow the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe to come to its logical conclusion of conflict against or in protection of Jews, or will we and European nations take a stand and openly condemn the Arab-Muslim fundamentalism and culture which has forced these French Jews to flee their homes?

The answer, I fear, is more obvious than I want it to be.

William Sullivan blogs at and can be followed on Twitter.

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